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Review of “ ‘All the Real Indians Died Off’: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans,” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker

This year 2016 may well be remembered as the moment more than a hundred Indigenous Nations who assembled at Standing Rock to save our water and our planet ignited the support needed from the rest of our population – to save the planet.

2016 also completes the last year of service by Barack Obama, the first African American President (who also has a FLOTUS and children of Black Indian descent). Though it remains among the President’s lesser-known achievements in office, he has done more than any predecessor to meet with and further public knowledge of Native Americans and their issues.

This October, Indigenous History Month, the country can celebrate this achievement by reading a new book “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans, issued by Beacon Press.

Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker, award-winning authors on the subject, provide easy to read chapters that systematically destroy the most common myths about Indigenous people in the Americas. Some are old saws you’ve long heard about, such as “Columbus Discovered America” and “Indians Were Savage and Warlike.” But their refutation of others dealing with Indian Casinos creating riches and Indians’ “disposition to Alcoholism” will enlighten even the well informed. This book convincingly shows how “race,” a European creation, was first planted and carefully nourished in this soil specifically to justify seizure of Indian land, labor power, and then the world’s most sustained and longest genocide.

Racism, we have learned from centuries of discussion and battle, is easier condemned than defeated. To serve their goals over the decades its beneficiaries have shaped new “scientific” or “factual” categories that confuse people by invariably “blaming the victim.”  

This volume is a logical follow-up to Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz’s award-winning Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, also issued by Beacon Press. The authors and the publisher are to be congratulated.

Copyright 2016 William Loren Katz